Accepted Terminology for Additive Manufacturing

5. March 2013

Additive manufacturing can be challenging to understand because of how many processes the term includes. While every machining center mills parts the same way, every additive manufacturing machine certainly does not build parts the same way. The number of processes is large enough and number of equipment OEMs small enough that it can seem as though every additive manufacturing machine maker employs its own distinctly different process. In fact, that view is not too far off—but there are still some important groupings that can be used to generalize these processes.

Tim Shinbara, technical direction at AMT—the Association For Manufacturing Technology—recently reported on additive manufacturing terminology agreed to by two major standards organizations. From Mr. Shinbara’s post, here are those officially recognized additive manufacturing terms:

  • Binder Jetting, in which a liquid bonding agent is selectively deposited to join powder materials.
  • Directed Energy Deposition, in which focused thermal energy (via laser, electron beam, plasma arc) is used to fuse materials by melting as they are being deposited.
  • Material Extrusion, in which material is selectively dispensed through a nozzle.
  • Material Jetting, in which droplets of build material (such as photopolymer or wax) are selectively deposited.
  • Powder Bed Fusion, in which thermal energy selectively fuses regions of a powder bed.
  • Sheet Lamination, in which sheets of material are bonded to form an object.
  • Vat Photopolymerization, in which liquid photopolymer in a vat is selectively cured by light-activated polymerization.


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